QOur upstairs floors, which are carpeted, squeak in places. Is there an easy way to fix this?
-- C. Wilson
AIt is seldom easy to fix a squeaky floor, but there is a possible remedy. I recommend you try this in just a few places at first, to see if you get good results.
The repair uses special screws that can be driven through carpeting into the supporting floor structure. When the screws are in place, the heads can be broken off with a tool so they are not visible. A power drill is needed to drive the screws.
Floor squeaks are generally caused by floorboards or subflooring that is slightly loose, causing the wood to rub against other wood or nails. To stop the squeaking, the screws must be driven through the flooring and subflooring and into the underlying joists, which support the floor.
A kit with 50 screws, a tool to align them, a drill bit and instructions is available from Improvements (www.improvementscatalog.com, item 110189, $30). Joists are normally spaced on 16-inch centers, so if you find one you can usually find others by measuring from the first joist.
Our tap water leaves a pink stain around the drains in sinks. Our water company says the stains are caused by harmless bacteria, but how do we get rid of them? -- J. Abel
The stains are caused by a mixture of bacteria that some water companies call "non-pathogenic," meaning they don't cause diseases. You can kill the bacteria and eliminate the stains from sinks and fixtures with non-abrasive cleaner containing bleach, or use a non-abrasive scrubbing pad and a solution of one part chlorine bleach to three parts water.
My white resin patio chairs are now a dull gray. I've tried to clean them with Ajax and so forth, but it didn't help. Can you help? -- C. Mendez
Manufacturers of resin outdoor furniture generally recommend a "mild detergent" solution, such as dishwashing liquid, for cleaning. Abrasive cleaners should not be used. If detergent doesn't work, try a solution of one or two cups of chlorine bleach in a gallon of water, applied with a soft scrub brush. Pressure washing at low pressure can also help. A light coat of automotive wax will help keep resin furniture looking fresh.
Some color changes in resin furniture are permanent. For example, suntan lotion contains chemicals that can cause stains that are difficult or impossible to remove. Spread a towel over the furniture if you are using lotion. If the furniture becomes very dingy or damaged, replacement is the best option because the furniture is relatively inexpensive.
Questions and comments should be sent to Gene Austin, 1730 Blue Bell Pike, Blue Bell, Pa. 19422. Send e-mail to email@example.com. Questions cannot be answered personally.